How to Format a Title Page for Your Screenplay
The film and entertainment industry requires screenwriters to format their screenplays according to specific style guidelines, including the Title page. As the very first page that an agent or producer sees or touches, your Title page can reveal if you are a professional or an amateur simply by the way you follow instructions on specific formatting rules.
The Title page of a screenplay contains only a few elements—all of which are important—and nothing more. The tone is serious and professional. While you may be tempted to decorate your Title page with images and fancy fonts, don't! Your aim is to grab attention, not to express yourself.
Don't deviate from the Hollywood standard, otherwise you will present yourself as inexperienced. Remember that you are competing with hundreds—if not thousands—of scripts, all of which are vying for attention and a first "promising" read. An incorrect format not only screams "amateur," but the script reader might think you probably can't write either so why should he bother reading your script?
No need to panic. I am here to show you how to format the all-important Title page of your screenplay. I will show you correct formatting, what information to include and what information to omit. The Title page is actually one of the easiest pages to format. In less than five minutes, you can set up the structure of your Title page in MS-Word or any word processor.
The most critical element of a Title page is...(drum roll please)...the TITLE! The handful of words that create your title are the only words on the Title page that let you express your creative ingeniousness.
Before we get started, we need to establish the page mechanics: margins, typeface, font size, spacing, and so on.
Typeface and Font Size
The typeface that you must use is called COURIER. This is the only typeface that is approved by the film industry. Don't use similar-looking fonts like Times New Roman or Courier New, as these fonts will ruin the character and line spacing on the page, not to mention reduce the readability of your entire script. Courier is a fixed-width font, meaning each character has the same width.
The size that you must use is 12-point, no smaller, no larger. A 12-point size in Courier provides a precise character/letter width that Hollywood professionals use to calculate the time of the movie length. A single page of script in 12-pt. Courier typeface equates to approx. one minute of screen time.
The Title page includes only three or four elements, and nothing more. These elements include: 1) the title of your script, 2) your byline, 3) your contact information, and (if applicable) 4) your agent's contact information.
Now that we know the margin sizes, typeface and font size, we can go ahead and create the Title page for your script.
Step 1: To center your title both vertically and horizontally on the page, insert approx. 20-22 line spaces below the top margin. (This brings the title about 1/4 below the one-inch top margin.) Center and capitalize the title and enclose it in quotation marks.
Step 2: Double-space once below the title and add "by" or "written by" (without the quotation marks) in lowercase, also centered. NEVER use any alternative words such as "penned by," "authored by," "scripted by," "created by," etc.
Step 3: Double-space once and add your full name, also centered.
(Note: It is also acceptable to triple space, instead of double space, between these elements. It's more common to double space though).
Step 4: Add your contact information (phone #, physical address, email address, etc.) at the bottom right hand side of the page. Single space and right-justify this information.
Step 5 (optional): If you have an agent, then you need to put your own contact information at the bottom left hand side of the page (left-justified text), and add the agent's contact information at the bottom right hand side of the page (right-justified text).
FYI: If you do not have an agent to list, it really does not matter if you add your contact information at the bottom left hand side or right hand side of the page. I prefer the right hand side because it is easier to see and the left hand 3-hole binding won't distort it.
As you can see from the above image, I have color-coded sections of my screenplay's Title page so you can see how I have formatted the page.
The red numbers running down the page indicate blank line spaces. This will help you visually see how many blank line spaces I used to vertically center my screenplay's title on the page. It also shows you on which line I added my contact information.
The above image is what my screenplay's Title page looks like without my markup and notes. Note that the left margin is 0.5" wider than the right margin because I will be punching holes in the paper and fastening my script with two brass fasteners.
A Title Page Does NOT Include These Elements
Do not include:
1) A copyright notice or WGA registration number. In the past, screenwriters added a Copyright notice and/or registration number from Writers Guild of America as proof that the screenplay is protected under national and international copyright laws. The industry standard is to OMIT any copyright notice or WGA number. It is no longer needed. In fact, including a copyright notice on the Title page is the mark of an amateur, according to Hollywood producers and film agents.
2) Dates. Do not put a date on the Title page. This only tells a script reader or film agent how old and dated your screenplay is.
3) Draft numbers. If you revise your screenplay, you do not need to indicate the revision number, such as "Revision # 3." Nor should you indicate a date when you last revised your screenplay. Film agents don't care. They only care about receiving a great script.
4) Word length. No need to indicate how many words your screenplay is. The number of pages gives an approximate length as to how long your screenplay runs in real-time. One page equals one minute of film time. A 120-page screenplay typically equals two hours of viewing time.
5) Final page count. Since each page of your screenplay will have a page number at the top, a script reader can thumb to the last page and see the final page number.
6) Don't bold, italics or underline any text on the Title page.
Giving a Co-Writer Credit
You have now learned how to correctly format the Title page of a script written by one screenwriter. If you are writing your screenplay with another screenwriter and need to credit your co-writer, you can do so by tweaking the byline line.
Simply insert the ampersand symbol ("&") between your name and your co-writer's name. For example, "Bill Smith & Jenny West." Never use the word "and." The word "and" between your name and a co-writer's name signifies an ordered ownership of the screenplay. A byline that reads "Bill Smith and Jenny West" implies that Bill Smith is the principal writer, and Jenny West is a secondary writer.
By default, co-writers have equal shares of ownership.
If you have completed a draft of your screenplay, or this is your FINAL draft which is ready for submission, then you are finished with your Title page.
If you revise your screenplay and send out "updated" versions of it, you do NOT add a date or revision number to indicate when you last revised your screenplay. Since your screenplay is a "spec script," it is ALWAYS a first draft, no matter who receives it.
Paper Size and Type
Use white-colored paper with standard dimensions of 8.5" by 11". You can buy paper with 3-holes punched along the side or you can punch the 3 holes on the side using a 3-hole paper puncher.
The 3-hole punch in the left margin will let you bind your screenplay with metal brass fasteners called "Brads." Brass fasteners come in various sizes. I use Acco Round-Head Solid Brass Fasteners, No. 5R, 1 1/4-inch long. Brads are basically metal "pins" with two flat legs at the bottom that you spread apart to bind multiple sheets of paper. Brads come in different sizes so make sure you get the right length to fit the thickness of your screenplay. Using Brads that are too long will poke through the bottom of your screenplay and might cut the hands of the reader. Only use two brass fasteners in the first and third hole. This will securely bind your script and let producers and agents handle your script with ease.
Formatting a Title Page with Screenwriting Software
Many screenwriters use a professional screenwriting program like Final Draft or MovieMagic Screenwriter to format both the Title page and the entire screenplay because they don't want to deal with setting up margins, tabs, and paragraph indentions. Plus a screenwriting program provides many shortcuts while writing scenes and characters. Even if you use a screenwriting program, you should know how to set up your own screenplay, including the Title page. Without such knowledge, you will never know the reasons why you must format a screenplay a specific way.
Following are my favorite screenwriting software programs and books on screenplay format that I have used. Enjoy!
Useful Resources for Screenwriters
- Screenwriting Contests for Aspiring Screenwriters
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